Hey everyone, my name is James Douma. I have been involved with the rodeo for the past several years. I am a full time firefighter in Ontario during the week and used to ride bucking horses on the weekend. I am married to an amazing woman named Jenn and together with our family, we led cowboy church for a few seasons in Ontario with the Rawhide Rodeo Company.
Growing up I figured I was your every day average Christian. I grew up in a Christian home, read my Bible, prayed every day and attended church every week. Life was great. My family did all kinds of things together. We camped, went fishing, hiking, we built all kinds of forts and tree houses together. We even took care of the livestock and farm chores together.
When I was in my early teens my parents started experiencing difficulty in their marriage. We ended up selling the farm and moving to a small town in hopes that the lighter work load would help patch things up. That didn’t end up working and a year later they split up and my dad moved out. It was a major shock to me and my siblings. Things just started to fall apart from there.
At 17 I started going to school (we were homeschooled up until then). I started hanging out with fairly questionable peers mainly because I didn’t really have any Christian friends. Slowly my morals and values started to slip and I found myself saying and doing things I had always said I wouldn’t.
I felt my parents really didn’t care about us anymore, even though deep down I knew they did, so I stopped caring about everyone and everything else but myself. My relationship with God at this point was limited to a quick prayer before food and bed, if I even remembered, and attending church out of obligation.
In the summer of 2009, my poor choices and actions finally caught up with me and ended up nearly costing me the only thing that mattered to me, my relationship with my girlfriend, Jenn.
To my absolute disbelief she forgave me for my indiscretions and together we decided to try and make things work. The only problem was we had no idea where to start. It was at this point in our discussion that my brother, who I hadn’t talked to in weeks, called me up and invited us out to his church. Reluctantly we agreed to come out Sunday.
I found that the people in this church accepted me for who I was, even though many knew of my history and the way I had been treating others. Their support along with actually hearing and applying the sermons to my life helped me want to change. I started praying and reading my bible more regularly and started to make friends who would build me up instead of tearing me down.
It wasn’t long before Jenn and I became members of that church. For the first time in many years things started to look up.
Since recommitting our lives to God and His plan for our lives we have had many ups and downs, struggles, temptations and joys. Living for God and trusting in His promises has given me joy and peace like I have never experienced before. Even though I continually let God down, He forgives me and blesses me so richly. I have found committing my life to God is tough, but following my own will and trying to do things on my own is a whole lot harder.
Are you still in involved in Cowboys of the Cross? I have thought about the idea of a Cowboy Church as an outreach into my rural community near Forest, Ontario. I don’t know if it is a pipe dream or not but am interested in at least connecting with you. Looking forward to hearing from you.